Petitions pending in Rhoades case
BLACKFOOT -- Administrative District Judge Jon Shindurling heard two pending petitions on the Paul Ezra Rhoades case Monday in Bingham County.
"I do not have the authority to issue a stay of execution in this case," Judge Shindurling said.
Rhoades is scheduled to be put to death Nov. 18 in the Idaho State Penitentiary in Boise. Rhoades was convicted for the 1987 murders of Susan Michelbacher in Bonneville County and Stacy Baldwin in Bingham County.
Speaking with Judge Shindurling in this telephonic conference were Bingham County prosecuting attorney Scott Andrew, federal public defenders Dennis Benjamin and Oliver Lowe and attorney LaMont Anderson from the Idaho Attorney General's office.
One of the two pending petitions involve the one strand of hair found on Stacy Baldwin's body. Called the "DNA case," the strand of hair was misplaced or lost in 2002.
"No one knows where it is," said Bingham County prosecuting attorney Scott Andrew. "We have not discovered any testable hair."
All evidence associated with the Stacy Baldwin case was sent to the Idaho State Laboratory, Andrew said. At the defense request, all evidence was forwarded to criminologist Dr. Richard H. Fox, Sr., from Ventura, Calif.
A letter from Fox to defense attorney David Parmenter is dated Feb. 25, 1988. In this letter, Fox writes: "The 'hair' found reportedly on the victim's clothing is in the microscopic range of Mr. Rhoade's head hair. No identification can be made. There is no root tissue available for genetic typing."
Andrew said, "I have a letter from the Idaho State Lab stating all evidence was sent to Dr. Fox and I have a letter from Dr. Fox's office stating they had received the items."
Dr. Fox has since retired, Andrew said. When asked about the hair strand, Fox stated "as was my habit," he returned all items to the agency of origin or they were destroyed.
There is no further documentation on the hair strand, Andrew said.
During the trial, the hair strand was not introduced into evidence.
"Everyone who might possibly have handled that strand of hair has been questioned," Andrew said. The State Lab has also been checked.
The evidence in the Stacy Baldwin case is now housed in the Bingham County courthouse.
"This case is on a fast track," Shindurling said. This case will be heard by the judge at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 1. Benjamin, Lowe and Anderson may attend by phone.
Shindurling dismissed the other pending petition. The federal public defenders did not object.
"I will not give rise to this issue on appeal because it was decided by the Supreme Court," Shindurling said.
The Idaho Supreme Court had ruled Rhoades was not entitled to a new sentencing hearing. This decision originated in Bonneville County.
Since the same argument was presented in the Bingham County case, Judge Shindurling dismissed the case here. The federal public defenders did not object.